Every summer from late June to early Fall, I pick up addictively delicious Palisade peaches (and plums, apricots, pears and sweet corn) at a fruit stand pitched near the gas tanks at Roaring Fork Valley Coop in nearby Carbondale. The Coop is my year-round go-t0 for fresh eggs, their gas is a bargain and the bathroom wins my Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. (Remember how important that became when Covid hit?) There’s not much this Iowa farm girl can’t find at a Coop.
With my recent cache of peaches, I pulled together Dorie Greenspan’s divine Drop-biscuit Peach-Blueberry Cobbler. Her cobbler begs for David Lebovitz’ Peach Ice Cream so I’m answering the call this weekend and will post both recipes in my next blog.
AN INTERVIEW with EMMA
Last week my granddaughter made her annual visit to Aspen. Emma was born two months after 9/11 and turned 21 during the Covid pandemic. She first voted for president in 2020 and started to be politically and current events-conscious during President Obama’s terms. Emma is GenerationZ (15-25).
During the recent Aspen Institute Ideas Festival, I attended a session called “Looking Forward with GenZ.” The premise was “Lots of people are talking ABOUT GenZ. Far fewer are talking TO GenZ. That has to change.” The data in the report is eye-opening. It’s as if we live on different planets?
Prior to Emma’s arrival, I emailed a number of people, some I knew, others I didn’t. What I asked was “If you could ask a 21-year-old GenZ’er one question, what would it be?” My responses, representing every decade from teenager to folks in their 90’s, was diverse and of every political persuasion. Emma bought into my idea of a week-long casual conversation . Over the years we’ve done this before. She takes these interviews very seriously. (As do I.) Below are very abbreviated answers to some of those questions.
If you could ask a 21-year-old GenZ’er one question, what would it be?
- Q: What gives you the most joy and what makes you the most afraid?
A: Being an individual who’s still a part of something. Feeling in control. Seizing opportunity as it presents itself. I’m not afraid of anything. If I start to be scared, I just ask myself, “What part of this can I control?”
- Q: What three things would you need to feel secure and confident about your personal future? What would a happy life look like for you?
A: Education, a plan. Passion and a calling. Resources + tools to get there, nothing fancy or crazy, just enough.
A happy life? GenZ is wayyyyyy less interested in money than previous generations. Financial stability is a plus for sure, but more so, what can life offer beyond that. I want to strike a balance with work, play, joy, and where the opportunity to learn is always present.
- Q: What is the definition of success for you? How are you prepared to handle it if it doesn’t materialize as you envision?
A: It’s not so much about achievement but your mental attitude as you do achieve. I love goals of course but I really do my best to keep my mindset focused, intentional, kind and open as I work towards them. We GenZ’ers are extremely flexible, adaptable, and innovative when it comes to change. We’ve had to be.
(Gramma Memo: Emma is a senior at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. Her major is Child and Adolescent Development. She has minors in Spanish and Pre-therapeutic Psychology.)
- Q: With so much current negative news, what are you most concerned about as you move into your 20s? What are the three biggest issues facing GenZ? What makes you excited and energized about the future?
A: Misinformation and polarization. Non response to environmental issues, choosing to believe since “they” are not impacted, GenZ will not be impacted. Racial and Mental Health ignorance.
We recognize what the generations above us contributed to society, both pros and cons. My generation vows to work together to create a more balanced, fair and inclusive society.
- Q: How would you address the fact that solely due to age, GenerationZ is continually discredited during important conversations when it will be our responsibility to clean up the mess we are left with? (asked by a Zoomer)
A: I have no doubt we will successfully be at the table, sooner rather than later. We’ve got desire. Right now we can participate in the process by voting in numbers that influence elections. I will admit that it would be nice to sometimes be acknowledged.
- Q: White privilege?
A: I understand I’m privileged. But realizing we’re stronger together, our generation celebrates diverse voices and accepts all stories and experiences. I have an obligation to participate in society as myself while also responding to the needs of that diversity.
- Q: As a member of GenZ, what do you consider the most important differences from those of older generations?
A: I think older generations operate in survival mode. Instead of our taking that as a “This is how it is, has been and will be,” we ask “Why can we not change it and How?”
- Q: What are YOU willing to give up to slow global warming?
A: I’d also like to ask that question to our older generations. As for me personally, I subscribe to multiple, helpful podcasts/blogs. I recycle and reuse. I carpool. I thrift everything I own and encourage others to join me. Eat mostly vegetarian. Volunteer. Ask ?s.
- Q: Do you believe it is worth your time to counter climate change and the wave of nationalistic authoritarian politics? Or live in indifference?
A: Of course I think it is worth my time. To be indifferent about topics and politics that affect or alter my life and the lives of many others is not productive. We are not okay with our freedoms being taken away. We are too progressive. It’s a matter of time but change will come. GenerationZ has Grit.
- Q: How can we engage GenZ in activism?
A: Although we have little power in the Congress/Supreme Court many of us already are engaged and pushing back. We’re more aggressive about finding opportunities. An example, this month Olivia Julianna turned being body-shamed by a congressman into raising within a week $2.2 million for 50 abortion rights organizations via social media. She’s 19 years old.
- Q: Describe yourself in 5 years.
A: Healthy, Joyful, Inspired, Brave, Confident, Educated, Experienced, Creative, Passionate, Intuitive
- Q: Are you hopeful, why?
A: Uh, YAH! I believe in our generation. We have challenges but we have fire. I am beyond excited each day to learn, go to school, participate, and work hard. When I was at California Girl’s State, I learned how important it is to be active and engage in our government on a county, state, and national level. Hope is inspired by drive. And we have a lot of drive. At least I know I do.
- Q: Is there any politician that currently inspires you to action? Who? Why? What?
A: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, AOC, the U.S. representative for New York’s 14th congressional district since 2019.
She’s a badass. Not afraid to call out wrongdoings. She’s honest. Good. Young. And intense about subjects we ALL care about.
- Q: What does your generation stand for vs. what they are known for?
A: Basically we stand for change, forward motion and progress. What are we known for? I don’t know. You will have ask others.
- Q: How do we get GenerationZ to vote.
A: We do vote. The 2020 election showed that. Most of us have been too young to participate in the past and voting is more restrictive in many states for us (and, everyone.) Right now we’d also like to hear from older generations that our voices matter.
16. Q: How best can we communicate with Zoomers?
A: Text, call, FaceTime. I do not not use social media. I flow between phone, text, photos and face-to-face.
- Q: What role does discipline play in your life?
A: Some of the best GenZers I know practice discipline and balance in their life. For me it’s an essential practice. Aside from taking 6 classes, I am president of Phi Upsilon Omicron, the family/consumer sciences honors society, RA for an on-campus apartment complex, an aide at the Early Childhood Learning Center on campus, an intern at Kids on the Point Occupational Therapy and a virtual tutor for high school-aged students. So, I am busy and discipline is second nature to me.
What a beautiful, bright, insightful granddaughter!! Loved this interview and getting a glimpse into the mind of her generation. xo
I love this, Mary!! Looks like you had an awesome week with your granddaughter… I’m inspired by the conversations you shared. 2 impressive women! I love it!
Emma totally blows me away. This is the best read I have had in a long time. What a remarkable young woman from a line of remarkable women.
Emma is indeed a bright light… gives us hope! and is evident the joy she brings you. I would interview my own granddaughter but she is only three…
I loved “listening” to your conversation. I learned a lot and thank you for sharing it.
Emma is a fabulous person! You must be so proud of her! And she can express herself so well. And by the way, she is fantastic looking! This was a great interview, and it sounds like generation Z is going to be the generation we’ve been waiting for!
Loved this! Missed seeing you, but glad you had a wonderful visit with your impressive granddaughter.
What a reassuring and uplifting report. I’m convinced Emma and her peers are prepared and willing to tackle the challenges ahead—-and that’s the best news this boomer could hope for. The needed changes Emma mentions really reflect those outlined in the research report. Thank you for a peek into Gen Z’s thoughts.
Thank you for sharing this inspiring interview with your beautiful and intelligent granddaughter. She gives me hope that the future of our nation is in good hands. She clearly takes after her brilliant and accomplished grandmother…
I would say that Emma has inherited some of her Grandmother’s thoughtfulness and enthusiasm! What a great interview!! I am expecting two young GenZ girls this week for an overnight and I am going to ask some questions!!! As always, you rock!!
These were the most inspirational thoughts I have read lately.
The questions were right on, and the answers were deeply thoughtful.
I am sharing it with our grandson, Ian, who is about Emma’s same age.
I will ask him to answer the same questions. He is here at the lake with us today.
Cross-generational conversation is so important. Lovely post, Mary. With young people like Emma in the world, the future is in good hands.
I am echoing everyone else’s sentiments……as a grandmother to a few “generation Z” young people, I relate to your conversations with Emma and have enjoyed similar chats with our kids. Really enjoyed!
I hope that there are millions of GenZs like Emma. She gives me some optimism about the future of our nation. Emma is bright and articulate and unafraid of change. If only she could be cloned! I give credit to her courageous mother and grandmother, women who are also unafraid.
What a precious granddaughter you have. I am impressed and love the questions you asked.
Ohhhh… Mary, I just loved the photos of you and your granddaughter. Especially after just having had a weekend with my grandson and 3 months with my daughter, Camia. I am very inspired now to ask better questions with my grandson!!! I love that Emma has no fear. I agree that us boomers are living in survival mode. Good point! I personally, use less water, less gas, and have quit redecorating to just redecorate. Such a fun post this month! I will be waiting for the peach cobbler recipe. xo
I just loved learning about your amazing granddaughter and she’s soooo cute!
Thank you, Emma and Mary, for so much to think about and talk about with my own Gen-Z grandchildren!
Hearing Emma renews our faith in the younger generation! It would be fun to have the both of you for dinner and continue the discussion. Mary…you are obviously very proud and rightfully so!